“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” - Hebrews 11:6
There are some pieces of the Bible that are very clear – offensively so. The challenge of the verse above is not its clarity; it's in living out its demand.
Think about your day for a moment. Think about the decisions you make based on faith in God. (Are there any? Some? Most?) Remember, faith is defined for us in this context as, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (11:1). We all hope for things and we all have convictions about things we want to see that haven’t yet happened. The question is: are those hopes founded in God’s desire, in his will, or just something we’d like for ourselves to make us a bit more comfortable in the world?And then we have to ask ourselves if those hopes are translating into practical action (faith).
I’m working from the assumption that if you are reading this article you are interested in pleasing God. If that is the case, then I think the above verse is worth some consideration. So let’s dig a little bit.
Believing God exists is often taken for granted in communities of faith. While it’s certainly a core belief that people would give assent to, you might ask yourself, do I believe God exists, is interested in my life and wants to reward me for seeking him? And then the qualifying questions come. What does it mean to seek him? Are the rewards different depending on how much or how hard we seek after him? And what are the rewards exactly? Should I feel bad if I’m seeking after him to get a reward?
I think examples are helpful here. Both the startup and implementation of programs and projects here at G.O.D. have been decisions of faith. From starting major programs like our Institute to individuals making everyday decisions based on God’s prompting like cooking a meal for a family going through a difficult time, I’m thankful to work in an environment where decisions are made and actions performed by faith.
In doing so, God has rewarded us. He has given precious people into our care. College students and adults who want to formally learn the Bible are doing so at our Institute. Children at the Academy at learning from a young age how to be responsible, kind and ethical neighbors. Widows who have needed assistance have been provided with social work services and renovations to their homes. Refugee families who have needed help in navigating life in a foreign environment have received willing helpers. Young adults training in agriculture, sustainable building, education and healthcare, even in a third world context. Underprivileged youth who need facilitated sports programs to help them spend their energy learning to cooperate, communicate and work as a team are invited to join the team. Middle schoolers who need caring adults to facilitate after-school programs throughout metro Nashville are blessed to find it! We've been able to partner with friends in East Africa, the Philippines, Latin America and India in order to bring change in the regions they live. And the list goes on and on, literally.
These people God has entrusted us with are a gift--and from what I can see, the gift. And his presence with us along the way is THE reward. But none of these things would have happened aside from faith. We aren’t getting rich off of them. The only motivation is to build up the people involved.
I hope as individuals that all of us, me and you, can believe God exists, draw near to him, do that which he asks, and experience that reward on a daily basis. It makes life so rich.